Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Driving in New Zealand

I bought a car in May. It's a little used, 4-wheel drive Subaru Impreza coupe with a killer stereo and ski racks. Since I'm now living at the top of a hill, the 4-wheel drive was a necessity. I found it on and bought if from an Aussie couple who live 6 months in Australia and 6 months in NZ. Winter was coming, so they were going. The process was surprising simple. One quick form dropped at the Post Shop, and I became the new owner - registration/ownership within a week. Don't remember it being so easy in California.

I got my NZ drivers license in February. NZ law says you can drive for one year with your country's drivers license if you hold a US drivers license. So many people have asked me if it's weird to drive on the "other" side of the road. Steering wheels are on the right side in NZ, and they use roundabouts (like in the UK). That took getting used to, as did the right of way rule which is opposite that in the US. That one still confuses people, not just me. But it really hasn't been that difficult to adjust. I'm just grateful that my car is an automatic. I'm right-handed, so driving a manual car in a roundabout was something.

One morning a few weeks ago, I was pulled over for an alcohol breath test while in on my way to work. I suppose because Queenstown is such a party town - it has some outrageous number of bars - the police make it a common practice to do these pull-overs. In fact, back in April, while driving home from a company farewell dinner on a Friday evening, I had to stop at one of these road stops. I was so happy that I'd made the decision to stop drinking those gin and tonics earlier in the evening. :-)

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